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Rheology and structure of ovalbumin gels at low pH and low ionic strength

Weijers, M., Sagis, L.M.C., Veerman, C., Sperber, B., Linden, E. van der
Food hydrocolloids 2002 v.16 no.3 pp. 269-276
cooling, gel strength, gels, heat treatment, ionic strength, ovalbumin, pH, rheological properties, rheology, salt concentration, sodium chloride, transmission electron microscopy, turbidity
The objective of this study was to relate the rheological behavior of ovalbumin gels at low pH and low ionic strength to their mesoscopic structure, using rheological measurements and Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM). Varying pH, ionic strength and protein concentration, we obtained transparent solutions, transparent gels, opaque gels, or turbid gels, upon heating and subsequent cooling of the ovalbumin solutions. At equal pH and increasing salt concentration we found an increase in turbidity, suggesting that the structure of the aggregates changed from linear or branched to more clustered aggregates. The gel strength increased with increasing salt concentration. A similar trend was observed at equal ionic strength and increasing pH. TEM micrographs of ovalbumin aggregates at pH 2 and 15 mM NaCl show that the ovalbumin aggregates are linear. Increasing the pH from 2 to 3.5 results in structures that are still linear, but with a higher degree of clustering. No random aggregates were observed. TEM micrographs of the gel phase at pH 3.5 and 30 mM NaCl (turbid) show that the structure consists of linear aggregates organized in large clusters of approximately 230–350 nm. At pH 2 and 30 mM NaCl (transparent) the gel consists of single strands with a diameter of about 3.3–3.9 nm, i.e. one or at most two monomers thick.